A guide to a 4 room BTO’s renovation and furnishing costs. 

Many of you have asked for information on this or a blogpost on this topic – you have been kept waiting!

We hope this is useful, especially for those of you who are going to start your home renovation journey soon. 

These costs are based on our personal tastes, decisions and where we live in Singapore. You don’t have to follow it all. In fact, we have not done many “usual” things like buying a TV, doing up false ceilings, getting a sofa at this point, etc. 

Our home is a 4-room BTO and all prices are quoted in Singapore dollars. 



List from our Interior Designer: (please note that if you do ask him for a quote, the prices of these items will vary according to the quality, size of your home and your design preferences.)

Total damage: ~$25,000

Find Raemond here

Included: 

  • Design and consultancy – Raemond is more of a designer than a contractor, which is exactly what we are looking for.
  • Demolition, haulage and debris clearing works.
  • Tiling works.
  • Plumbing works.
  • Painting works.
  • Glass works – 2 bath shower screens. 
  • Floor works – vinyl flooring. 
  • Door works – bedroom doors. 
  • Carpentry works – shoe cabinet, kitchen cabinets, bedroom raised platform, and bathroom sink-tops.
  • Electrical works.
  • Miscellaneous works, cleaning and acid wash. 

As most of you know by now, our home is pretty minimal, so we have kept certain items low on costs, but we did pay a little more for our custom-made frosted bedroom doors – which we love so much till today. It allows light through and it makes the space feel larger and airier. 


Raemond is design-focused and patient – we would definitely recommend him. 🙂

We also had to top up around $800 for a HBD contractor to even out our cement screed on our floors, as we had opted out from HBD’s default flooring. Thereafter, Raemond’s guys laid out the vinyl over the dried screed. This is entirely optional. 


List from Besglas: 

Total damage: $4505.60

Find them here

Included:

  • Kitchen sliding doors (custom 3 panels, top hanging) – $1954.13
  • Toilet acrylic bifold doors (x2) – $328 x2
  • Closet sliding doors (custom 2 panels, soft closing) – $1730.94 
  • The above included installation as well.

Overall, Besglas was very professional. Everything was installed in less than 2 hours! The workers were also happy working, singing and laughing while completing their tasks. 👍🏻

List from Aik Leong:

Find them here

Total damage: $4315

  • Electrolux washing machine – $899
  • Electrolux induction hob – $829
  • Electrolux glass chimney hood – $859
  • Electrolux built-in oven – $729
  • Ryker fridge (white!) – $999

Aik Leong is a reputable and long-standing company dealing with appliances. So far, I’ve had no major issues with my appliances and the lady boss is pretty responsive in replying us. 



List from Dream Lights:

Find them here.

Total damage: $1555.

Included:

  • All the LED ceiling lights in our home!
  • Living room area’s fan with light.
  • Water storage heater tank. 
  • The above includes delivery and installation costs.

Other lists:

  • 4 Mitsubishi air-conditioners: $3880
  • Sink, taps and toilet bowl: $1605 (We would not recommend this contact as we found out that they are pretty expensive and service wasn’t very good.)
  • Vinyl blinds: $850 – We would highly recommend Carol from Plus Furnishings (Tel: 62702925)
  • 4-tier flexible clothes rack: $229 – We bought ours from Hipvan but we think it’s no longer available. You guys could check out HomeFix or online sources.
  • Service yard windows and invisible grille – $1330 (Service from LeGate wasn’t fantastic but whatever mistakes they’d made, they promptly rectified it at some point)
  • LeGate invisible grille for the living room and bedrooms – $1200 (After discount because of the point above)
  • New queen-sized mattress and beddings: $1958.90 (Courts was having a sale!)
  • Hyflux water filter: $249
  • MUJI dining table and bench: $799 + $309
  • FortyTwo.sg chairs: $98
  • MUJI roller drawers: ~$250 (it’s all over our rooms and part of our closet)
  • IKEA full length mirror with hooks: $69
  • 3 floor fans: ~$200
  • MUJI study table: $418
  • Store room shelf on wheels: ~$150
  • Study room shelf on wheels: $352
  • 2 new large dehumidifiers: ~$1000
  • Miscellaneous items like pails, ladder, cleaning accessories, doorbell, padlock, laundry basket, laundry bags, etc: ~$300
  • Pre-move-in cleaning service: ~$450

Grand total: ~$51,872.50

Guys, don’t freak out. We did not pay this amount all at one go. It was paid off gradually over the months, and of course with savings and blessings from our family. By God’s grace, we are debt-free and it is awesome (for our pockets and marriage). Our advice is to buy things gradually and as you need them – this really helps in saving money and buying only what you love.

We are still looking to buy/customize our dream (practical for humid Singapore/need to spark joy in us):

  • Sofa
  • Portable projector (we prefer not to have a TV)
  • Study room chair


So this is where we are at now and feel free to ask us any questions in the comments section! 

You may also visit a blogpost we did here on tips to save money during the renovation process. 

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Does minimalism mean depriving yourself of things?

What do you think our answer is to that? 

Heck no of course!

For us, keeping and maintaining ONLY what sparks joy is what that matters. It is far from depriving yourself of things you truely love and treasure.

The wife is definitely reinspired again, after reading Marie Kondo’s book

It has been almost 6 months since we have moved into our new Japanese-themed and what we would call a minimalist home – and we feel that we definitely do not make use of every single item that we have (need to KonMari the home again). 

Also, we do not yet have everything we want that would spark joy. But! In that is a journey called life. 🙂 In life, we discover, we grow, we evolve in terms of the stuff we need, we find value in, and of course, the people we choose to have close to us (so important). 

Therefore, minimalism means that we aspire to love/need every single item in our home! A home is a sanctuary to come home to, and we want every single sight that we catch in our home, to spark that little happiness and excitement.

For the wife, it is fake plants. Yes fake, because it provides the green she likes but yet there is no need to water it nor throw it away after it wilts.

 

And the wife indulges in her decadent Aēsop products that she cannot get enough of. It’s quality, smell and price(!), is unmatchable (to her). 

Do you have items in your home that spark joy? It could be anything and don’t be ashamed of it (old band tee shirt, notebook of sketches, wedding album, an old mug, anything). 

Join us on this journey to have only things that spark joy our homes! 

Airing out your mattress and wet kitchen items.

There’re quite a few good home habits that we are trying our best to adhere to, for the sake of our health and the longevity of our belongings.

One of them is airing out your mattress!

There is a detailed write-up here if you’d like to know more. 

We usually air it out on the weekends, when we change our bedsheets (we can’t do that weekly at the moment…it’s too tiring heh). 

Benefits of airing out your mattress:

  • A cleaner mattress (but of course).
  • Reduced chances of falling ill/aggravating allergies.
  • Less chances of bedbugs or other critters making your mattress their home.
  • A longer lasting mattress. It’s a pretty expensive piece of furniture so good care put towards it is worth it.

Our step-by-step process summarized:

(Try to do this in the morning when the sun is out)

  1. Prepare large laundry bags (we got ours from IKEA).
  2. Remove beddings and put it inside the laundry bags.
  3. Lift up the mattress and air pillows/bolsters on a rack. 
  4. Vacuum the mattress or use a sticky-roll to roll away dust/hair.
  5. Spray a dust mite prevention/killer-spray all over the mattress.
  6. Air out the mattress and air pillows/bolsters on a rack, near the window/sun. (Great opportunity to clean the bed frame, or for us, the platform area of the floor where our bed rests.)
  7. Turn on the dehumidifier and face it towards the abovementioned items.
  8. Head to the laundrymat! This includes heat-drying the beddings as well. 
  9. Head home. Air the washed/dry bedding for a while and keep it. 
  10. Take out clean set #2 of beddings and replace.
  11. Sleep on a clean bed. ✌🏻

The air in Singapore gets even more humid once the sun goes down, so try to get everything done before evening falls – especially if you’re keeping the windows open while airing the mattress. 

We have kept our pillows and the likes of it as compact as possible. We have also changed our mattress from a King-sized to a Queen-sized (the wife is petite anyway). This makes changing our beddings and airing stuff out SO MUCH easier. Our old King-sized mattress was so heavy and so hard to lift up, but don’t be pressured by us and do what works for you – we have just chosen to be as practical as we can.

Also, do remember to air out your kitchen items such as dishes, drying racks and bottles. This helps to reduce the growth of mold. See more of our post on fighting mold here

We hope this inspires you! 

Minimalism should not promote impracticalities.

For those of you who are really attracted to minimalism – we are so excited for you because that is a start to a wonderful journey ahead!

So is minimalism just a form of design? Yes. But it isn’t entirely about design either. We’ve touched on this in our last post

In this post, we want to share with you why is minimalism also practical, especially for those of you who are going to, or are in the midst of designing your dream home. 

Minimalism is a thought-process, or it can be seen as a goal. Let us explain.

This means that you keep your table tops as clear as possible on a daily basis. You keep your floor as bare as possible. You keep your dry dishes daily back into your storage. 

Basically, you design your home with all theses in mind. How will your daily “come back from work / tired / wanna rest” flow be like?

For us, we got ourselves an iRobot Roomba 900 series so that cleans our floors daily (not sponsored).

So our daily evening routine looks somewhat like this:

  • Open door, put shoes on plastic trays.
  • Hang keys up, put belongings down.
  • Wash our feet. Wash our shoes. Hang it up to air.
  • Sanitize our belongings (especially our mobile phones).
  • Turn on our iRobot to begin its cleaning of all rooms except our bedroom/storeroom.
  • Pack our belongings and bring relevant items back into the bedroom. 
  • Every other day, we’ll magic-clean our bedroom.
  • Shower (squeegee after), watch some content online, chat, relax and sleep.

Yup that’s our daily evenings! You may think we are kind of crazy to be doing that “much” every night – but it is entirely possible…why? 

By making small steps every day to keep the house clean and tidy, you save yourself the hassle of doing “heavy-cleaning or scrubbing” on the weekends. It becomes a daily habit instead.

For most people, being in a home that’s neat and clean literally relieves stress. You come home to a sanctuary and you actually reduce the risk of falling ill. So yes, minimalism is practical!

For us, we are the kind that literally pick up hair on the floor whenever we are able to. We just love sliding around a clean floor! 😁 

Every good and small habit formed goes a long way. 🙂 And if you think about it, we are being deliberately minimal in the way we lay things out, so it’s easy to clean. So gone are the days (mostly) where we procrastinate in cleaning. 

Think twice about every table/shelf/chair that you’d want to purchase, and how easy it would be to clean. 

Therefore, although our Japanese-themed home would be complete with tatami mats and wooden sliding doors, it is simply NOT practical for Singapore homes (aka humid-to-the-max homes). 

We hope this (OCD)post has inspired you some way or another. 

(If you’re a parent, get your children to help at a young age! If the Japanese can do it, so can we. :))

Minimalist Design versus Minimalist Lifestyle.

Through the course of designing our new home, we have been introduced to, or have stumbled across several topics or products related to minimalism.

Mock-up examples of articles that kept appearing as Facebook/Instagram ads:

  • Modern minimalist loft design condominium at Ang Mo Kio
  • 10 stylish minimalist home designs you’ll love
  • 5 minimalist homes you’ll fall in love with

sofa

Image source: Dezeen

We have also noticed that companies are now naming their products using the keyword “minimalist”, i.e. minimalist bedside lamp or minimalist Zen sofa.

Is there something attractive or current about minimalism that has intrigued the people of this day and age? One thing for sure, is that people are constantly seeking to be happier with less – because over time, they discover that having more does not lead you to happiness (and perhaps the contrary).

However, we feel that the notion of minimalist design and a minimalist lifestyle is something we’d like to expound on and provide a viewpoint.

Minimalist Design.


Minimalism seems like such a sexy word in the eyes of Marketers. Conceivably, analytics and insights may reveal how sales would spike with just a mention of “minimalism” in its branding or product naming. Is there anything wrong with that? To us, no. Marketers are constantly seeking out ways to enhance customer touch-points (the marketer in the wife is doing a minor rabbit trail) and perhaps trying to help the customer feel cool and into “design-thinking.”

We’re sorry, but we have to burst the bubble of such a consumer, and we’d like to help them (or you) take on another perspective.

A beautiful “minimalist” lamp may look fitting for a new home that’s themed “industrial-chic,” but does it have grooves that are hard to clean? Is the bulb easily replaceable/affordable? We’ve heard of friends who have bought beautiful lights online (at amazing prices). After a couple of years, they switched those filament bulbs to normal florescent bulbs as it’s more practical. However, it may not look the way it is supposed to after that change.

Minimalist design is also popular because, hey, it’s beautiful. Black, white, gray, void empty spaces, it’s beautiful. Just look at Kinfolk, modern calligraphy, and café interiors nowadays.

As minimalism is defined: “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Or is minimalism to you, “a tool that can assist you in finding freedom?”

Minimalist Lifestyle.


This is something we are constantly endeavoring towards. We may face ups and downs (mostly the wife on the down bit) but we are getting to a happier place. What is this lifestyle?

We have reduced our total amount of shoes to under 15 (we need to do a wardrobe number check soon) and all of our socks can fit into a relatively tiny plastic container.

You can read more about why we became minimalists here in detail, but the gist of this minimalist lifestyle is this: You’ll be asking yourself these questions pretty often.

Do you constantly:

  • Seek to find easier ways to do things?
  • Look to reduce your clothing?
  • Digitize your papers & documents?
  • Pay your bills on time?
  • Inspire yourself to own less?
  • Have a pretty clean/neat home?
  • Stay on top of things?

To us, minimalism as a tool, has benefitted us a lot. It has steered us to use stuff for people, and not the other way around. It is still a learning journey for us.

Can we marry Minimalist Design and Minimalist Lifestyle?

Yes you can! We hope we did that with our home at least.

A Japanese home is already known to follow a minimal theme, so for us, it’s a wonderful union of design and lifestyle.

A typical Japanese apartment in Tokyo is small, modular and each room can adapt to the year’s 4 seasons easily. It’s usually brightly-lit, filled with white & brown hues, and clean. Each family member would have a set of their own chopsticks, spoon, fork, knife and bowl. No more, no less. A bedroom transforms into a living area in a matter of minutes (futons-in-closet style) – we love it!

At the end of it all, the point is to think through at maximum (ironically), how to make your home design as practical as possible, for a more minimal and happier you.

Choose practical beauty. Choose time with family. Choose having a clean home for your health’s sake. Choose to declutter your stuff and see how it helps you declutter your mind. Choose love, over stuff. Choose people, because your relationships with people are the only things you’re able to bring to Heaven with you. 🙂

See the beginning of our journey here

8 Tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes (you cannot miss this post).

Singapore is one heck of a humid country, in addition to it being really hot. And this humidity happens almost all year round, especially during the year-end period.

So, why is it so hard to find a comprehensive guide or tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes? We aren’t sure why but we’ve decided to share with you guys our very own tips, after 4 years of dealing with mold & mildew in 2 apartments.

Firstly, what is mold or mildew?

Mold and mildew are a type of fungi. Mold is black or green, and mildew is white or gray (ewuu). Let’s keep the short-form to “M&M.”

Secondly, why do we have mold or mildew in Singapore?

M&M thrive in Singapore’s weather because we are near the equator, surrounded by water, in the path of the monsoon rain patterns, and we are formerly a large swamp.

Thirdly, why is it important for us to keep M&M away?

Let us share with you the factual consequence of having M&M in your home:

  1. Mildew can damage your furniture and home structure.
  2. Mold can cause health problems like allergies, nasal stuffiness, wheezing, skin irritation and respiratory problems.
  3. Mildew can cause coughing, headaches, scratchy throats and lung problems.
  4. People with low immunity or chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.
  5. Scientists found a direct correlation between a high presence of mold in households and depression.
  6. For us, it is just gross and it attracts a bug (albeit harmless) called booklice into your homes. Most Singapore homes have it and you ought to know that they are all females and can breed like no tomorrow if you allow M&M to fester.

This is the gist of it. Enough of the ‘bad news’ and here is the GOOD NEWS! You can control M&M growth in your homes. 🙂

The benefits of having a home with ideal humidity levels:

Yes guys, there ARE benefits!

  1. Lowered risk of damage on your furniture and home structure.
  2. Lessened or no M&M in your home.
  3. This leads to less or no bugs entering and making your home, theirs.
  4. Reduced health problems and chances of aggravating any allergies.
  5. Less toxins in your home = healthier body = less money spent on curing oneself.
  6. A nicer smelling and more pleasant living space.
  7. Generally…a happier you! Because you took responsibility to deal with this issue that many Singaporeans acknowledge but do nothing about, or aren’t even aware of. But it’s okay – that’s why this blog post was written to educate you. 🙂

Tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes.

Basically…keep all areas of your home as dry as you possibly can. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Monitor the humidity level in your home using a hygrometer.


A healthy humidity level indoors is between 40-50%, and Singapore homes’ humidity levels are generally at 70-80% – which is insane! You can easily buy a hygrometer from Daiso (it may not be 100% accurate but instead serves as a gauge) or from Qoo10

  1. Use drying agents in enclosed spaces like cupboards & drawers.


In Singapore, we commonly refer to it as “Thirsty Hippo” – which is actually a pretty expensive brand alternative. Instead, we purchase ours at Japan Home, Watson’s or Guardian (especially when there’re offers). Remember to check the water-levels in these drying agents frequently and replace it with a new one once it is 95-100% full. It’s also a good gauge to see how humid any particular cupboards/drawers might be in your home (the faster it collects water, the higher the humidity levels). You don’t want silverfish to make these spots their home yeah? Apparently they like humidity levels of 75-95%…ewuuu… 

  1. Invest in a dehumidifier (or make that plural).


We own a total of 1 small and 3 large dehumidifiers in our home – yes, a total of 4. Our area is considered to be rather humid so we do not take any chance. I won’t go into a brand-review here but let’s just say that EuropAce’s dehumidifiers are value for money BUT, their service is practically horrible. However, sad to say, they do provide a relatively stable product. Novita is another brand to consider. Novita is more expensive and their product isn’t as well designed BUT, their service has been pretty good.

We stick to a standard schedule of dehumidifying our homes, which does contribute to slightly higher electricity bill. However, we’d choose this over the doctor’s bill or being unhappy/uncomfortable in our own home. 

(Note: When we turn on the dehumidifiers, we close the windows)

  1. Keep your home airy and ventilated.


Humidity builds up in the air and settles into your stuff at home, if you do not ventilate it often. Turn on your fan as often as you can (use smart-plugs to schedule fan circulation, or low-electricity consumption fans) and keep your windows open as much as possible.

Please remember to keep your storeroom ventilated too!


Also, keep your items aired out too, such as how we air our laundry bags at our service yard, and how we air our magic-clean mop, after spraying it with Dettol after each use.


(Note: When we air our rooms, we do not turn on the dehumidiers)

  1. In the kitchen, air-out your workspace, kitchenware before keeping them & replace kitchen sponges every 2-3 weeks.

Constantly ensure that your workspace and tables are kept dry. The kitchen is a huge wonderland for bugs and M&M if you allow ponding or spills to rest for too long. 


Don’t help to introduce more moisture into your storage areas by keeping ‘almost-dry’ items back in. Give them time to dry out in the airiest/brightest area of your kitchen. Thereafter, give it a good wipe with a microfiber cloth before keeping them.


Also, if you cook often, do replace your kitchen sponges every 10-14 days. If not, every 2-3 weeks. If you own a microwave, you can choose to use it on high heat to kill bacteria/M&M built-up. Sponges are really cheap in Singapore (we get ours at Daiso), so don’t risk your health to keep using one as long as you possibly can. 

  1. In the bathrooms, squeegee the wet areas after each shower, keep your toothbrushes out to air, keep countertops dry & clear out hair-gunk.


It may seem that we are super hardworking in squeegeeing daily, but this really helps to reduce soap scum and stains from building up on the walls/floors/shower screens. This means that we need not deep-clean the bathrooms so often. Simply buy a squeegee from IKEA, Japan Home or Daiso and do a quick squeegee after each use of the bathroom – it’ll become habitual for you in no time.


Mold can grow on your toothbrushes if it isn’t well aired out after each use, so do try to keep them in the open with an avenue to dry. Also, please do not place your toothbrushes near the toilet bowl, and worse…don’t flush with the toilet lid up! Imagine a bacteria party in the air and the after-party on your toothbrushes (and then in your mouth).


And yes, clear out the hair that has collected at your drain after your shower. Unless you love keeping flies and bacteria as pets (you know where we are going with this). We also currently use a drain-filter from Daiso and this does help keep our hair on the surface for ease of cleaning. The wife recently found a Hello-Kitty one too.

  1. During the renovation phase, we chose frosted glass doors & a glass closet.


We are very satisfied with the design of our doors and closet. M&M love to grow in dark and damp areas and this definitely helps us to keep the areas of our home as well-lit as possible.


And of course, we are attracted to clear furniture items too, heh. 

  1. Last but not least, become minimalists.


This is all the make-up the wife owns (though she allows herself multiple MAC lipsticks). We also don’t own a lot of clothes – so we tend to cycle and go through our clothes faster, and our clothes remain fresh. 


In total as a couple, we own less than 15 pairs of shoes (including slippers).

Generally, the lesser things you own means the lesser you have to maintain to keep M&M at bay.

We’d also like to caution you to beware of air-diffusers and candles. These items tend to lend humidity and even toxic soot (trim your wigs) to the air and it’ll negate some of the above tips.

After reading through this entire post, you may feel exhausted at the thought of these ‘additional’ housework but we assure you that:

  • There’ll be less stress to ‘deep-clean’ your home.
  • There’s less of a chance of you finding bugs in your home.
  • You’ll be a healthier and happier you.

We hope this helps and let us know what you think at the comments section!
    

Sources:

Also see: Why did we become minimalists?

 
 
 

 

Kitchen update: Did we stick to being minimalists? (photos included).

It has been 3 months since we have moved in! And this means we have gotten a chance to purchase more items (that we need) and populate our kitchen cabinets. 

You may now be thinking…”these two can’t possibly keep up with minimalism. Stuff WILL accumulate in a matter of time…it happens to everyone…”

We are purposeful not to hoard and to constantly evaluate if we need certain items or not. But you will notice in the upcoming photos that we have multiple items we consider as daily-needs, such as Dettol, haha!

Here’s a somewhat macro view of our kitchen with all our cabinets closed. We love to keep only items we use daily on the counter tops and the rest in the cabinets. As we’ve said before, this makes cleaning so much easier.

Our service yard is kept as clutter free as possible. It’s the place with the most direct sunlight and it holds our buckets to ensure that mold doesn’t built up. This white stool has many uses – 1) holds our laundry basket when we load our washer, 2) allows us to sit and enjoy the view outside, 3) allows the wife to sit at our movable island for meals. It’s also easy to clean – such a great buy. (A post on where we got all our stuff will be drafted soon!)

Our handy step stool is tucked away in a corner so the wife could pull it out quickly to access the upper shelves. And of course, gotta keep those bug-killers accessible and handy too.

Here’s our little pantry / appliance / pots and pans cabinet. There’s always instant noodles and coffee in this home. And the husband recently surprised the wife with an electronic mixer that isn’t too small, but still fits in the cabinet, yay!

Our under-sink area consist of detergents and all kinds of sprays! Whenever we see an offer, we kinda buy in bulk. 😋 But we do use them up pretty fast.

These are all the dishware, containers, cups, disposables and seasoning that we have. It is more than sufficient. 

What does your kitchen look like on the inside and out? 😊